This is my very first trip to another country. My sister talked me into coming. The plane ride to Costa Rica was a long day of travelling but I was so excited to get there it didn’t matter.
Being able to meet up with everyone that was on the team at the airport was great because we got to spend 8 hours together getting to know each other before we got in country.
I remember being on the plane and before we landed in San Jose as we had to circle the airport for about 45 minutes. I remember being so anxious and worried, but mostly excited. I tried to imagine what to expect when landing and when we got to San Jose.
It was nothing I expected. The thought that San Jose is a main city is crazy for me. It blew my mind because it functioned so different from cities back in Canada.
The first day we stayed in San Jose, I realized how difficult and frustrating it was to communicate and get things you need in a foreign place when you are not fluent in the language. I just kept telling myself this is part of the experience and they go through a lot of things much harder than just simply not understanding someone.
We had a team member who knew Spanish pretty well so that helped a lot. I’m sure the trip would be completely different if we didn’t have him helping us. Once we were done traveling around San Jose we had to take a three hour car ride to Napoles.
This was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The mountains were amazing and it was all you could see for miles it was so beautiful. I thought how beautiful they were. I thought to myself I’ve never travelled before and was content with what I saw in my city. I had no idea what else was out there and how other people lived.
As soon as I opened my eyes in San Jose the morning I thought about how yesterday I was home at work and today I am in a whole different country where everything is new and like nothing I’ve never seen before. Trying to wrap your head around something like that is indescribable because so many people including myself never go anywhere their whole life. Getting to go on this trip and experience the culture and live with the people you are going to help is such a great experience.
Once we got to Napoles, a family let us stay in their cottage. They were so sweet opening up their home to us. What made me realize how important this trip is for the people in these communities we are visiting was how willing and grateful the people in the community were to have us.
They were making us meals and opening up their homes and thanking us before we even started any of the projects! This was an amazing feeling. I felt like I was already helping people and making a difference. Being able to help people while you’re learning from them as well is something that I am getting to do while everyone else is at home living their daily lives. It is something that I will remember forever. To imagine that I was going to pass this trip up and miss this experience to continue to work at home makes me feel like a different person than I was last summer.
Helping people in any way is a goal of mine but sometimes you have to travel to learn and help at the same time. I’m so happy that I decided to come on this trip and learn about the world.
Overall, I can’t wait for the rest of the week to actually start working and making a difference in the community.
Jamie MacNeil, DWC Team Costa Rica August 2018
This morning I woke up, took out my retainer and went to breakfast. My usual morning. I mean besides the fact that I woke up in a tent in Narinjillo, a small village in Costa Rica. This is my second “service trip”, but the first trip where I lived on my worksite. I see the improvements we make and I am able to use the improvements myself. When we arrived, there were no stairs from the community centre to the kitchen. I now walk on those steps everyday with a new found appreciation knowing we built those stairs.
It’s a completely different experience than my first trip to Cambodia where we travelled to our worksite. These past 2 weeks I’ve been immersed into the community. On my free time I play and talk to Carlos, a 10 year old boy who lives near by with my (very) broken Spanish. His favourite colour is red and he is in grade 4. This is information I learned living in this village and on this worksite which I may have otherwise never known. We play soccer, tic tac toe or Phase 10 (a popular Costa Rican card game) after he finishes his school day and I finish my work for the day.
Since we are physically living in the village we know what needs to get fixed. We know what takes priority and we realize the importance of getting a job done efficiently.
We’re making connections. We’re working side by side with the community collectively as a unit. We get work done in the most efficient way possible and are able to see the end result of our projects. We are currently living the most “real” experience any one of us ever have.
Ameera Ali, DWC Team Costa Rica August 2018